"I undertook great projects: I built houses for myself and planted vineyards. I made gardens and parks and planted all kinds of fruit trees in them. I made reservoirs to water groves of flourishing trees. I bought male and female slaves and had other slaves who were born in my house. I also owned more herds and flocks than anyone in Jerusalem before me." Ecclesiastes 2:4-7
If you ever travel to the Holy Land, you will no doubt see the remnants of Solomon’s handiwork described in verses 4-6. Even though three thousand years have passed since Solomon reigned in Jerusalem, remains of his vast building projects dot the landscape. Archeologists have uncovered his stables, numerous cities he fortified, and underneath the Temple Mount in Jerusalem they have excavated the enormous stones that served as the foundation of the Temple itself.
He spent seven years building the Temple (1 Kings 5-6) and thirteen building his palace (1 Kings 7). 1 Kings 9:17-19 adds these details: “And Solomon rebuilt Gezer. He built up Lower Beth Horon, Baalath, and Tad-mor in the desert, within his land, as well as all his store cities and the towns for his chariots and for his horses-whatever he desired to build in Jerusalem, in Lebanon and throughout all the territory he ruled.” First Kings 10 tells us about his throne of ivory overlaid with gold; his ships that sailed to distant ports, returning with precious metals, apes and baboons; and how silver was as plentiful as stones in Jerusalem. The whole world sought audience with the king to hear the wisdom God had put on his heart. There never was a man like Solomon-not before or since. No king ever had so many earthly advantages.
Yet the end of the story is not a happy one. Solomon’s many foreign wives turned his heart away from following God fully (1 Kings 11:1-6). Unlike his father David, he was not a man after God’s own heart. David was an adulterer and a murderer, but deep inside he truly wanted to please God. Solomon, for all his greatness, had character flaws that eventually caused his kingdom to split in two. He also brought idol worship into the land. That curse would not be removed for hundreds of years.
The lesson in all this is not hard to find. Wisdom alone is not enough. Solomon had more wisdom than David, but three thousand years later the world now acclaims father as greater than his son. David had many flaws, but in the end he had a heart to know God. Solomon had it all from an earthly point of view, but in the end what he had didn’t matter because he didn’t have the one thing that mattered most. Solomon’s wisdom led him to greatness but it couldn’t prevent him from sowing the seeds of his own decline. Having it all doesn’t matter if the Lord is not first in your heart.
Father, I pray for a heart fully devoted to You. Amen.
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